Ask the man on the street where he heard the best fish story and he is likely to say, “around a campfire.” Yes, the campfire setting has the distinct advantage of an environment conducive to tall tales.
Whether it is a ghost story or the tale of bank robbing bandits in the old west, the campfire is a great venue for spinning these yarns. The smoky fun of the campfire is not for me, the great outdoors in general is not for me. First of all, if I am bitten by an insect I instantly swell up like Professor Klump. The delightful fresh air wafting through most campgrounds will swell up my asthmatic airways like interstate 5 at rush hour. I absolutely refuse to eat anything heated over a campfire and that includes marshmallows.
When I think of good storytelling, I think of my buddy Rick’s garage. Rick’s garage was packed with old car parts including an engine or two and on a Saturday night a few good friends would gather. We would sit around stuffing our faces and spinning yarns of race track conquests and stoplight battles. If you have been a reader of mine for any period of time, you know me as well as anybody. Dust off a seat, grab a burger and give me the floor, or as we used to say, “Dude, check this out.”
I am by nature a night owl, but very early one morning, I awoke to the sound of a ringing phone. I am not a morning person and it was the morning ... nine in the morning. I was up late doing homework and my shift at Honda as a parts specialist didn’t start until three in the afternoon. Irritated I picked up the phone to hear my frantic girlfriend tell me her Civic was missing. Surmising the Civic hadn’t driven off by itself, I figured it had been stolen. I reassured Jordan everything was going to be OK ... I was getting out of bed.
When I arrived at Jordan’s place, she was very upset, pacing back and forth.
Jordan told me that her neighbor had seen a man break into her Honda which had been parked in the driveway and tear off down the street. I asked Jordan for more details and she told me the car had been gone since seven and that nobody else had a key. While I was listening to Jordan, I had a thought ... How cool would I be if I solved the crime myself? I told Jordan to wait for the police; but I had work to do.
I will be the first to admit that I am not a genius, but using deductive reasoning I believed I could solve this crime. All problems have a solution, be it mechanical or criminal. I took the info I had and laid it all out. I then plugged in the missing pieces. Jordan lived on a busy street with lots of traffic heading to an area where I have seen many stolen cars stripped down to their frames. While the Civic was not worth a lot of money, it was very easy to steal and strip. I figured this was a crime of opportunity. The thief saw the car on his way to the “chop shop” and figured it was a quick buck. I now had a solid scenario and I knew where to look. Now I just needed to find a needle in a haystack.
I jumped behind the wheel of my bright blue Subaru WRX and headed into the belly of the beast ... Kelly Drive, Stockton. Driving down Kelly Drive with my eyes peeled was exciting. I felt like an old grizzled private dick looking to solve one more case. Peering out my window, I saw plenty of Hondas with broken door locks and missing parts, but not Jordan’s. Then as I scanned the horizon....Zap, like a taser to the face, I saw a sad little gray four-door Civic parked haphazardly to the curb. The “bad girl” sticker on the bumper clinched it ... gotcha!
I parked fifty feet away and called Jordan. “I have eyes on her,” I said with stone-cold confidence. Jordan squealed and asked where the Civic was and when she could retrieve her. Clinching my foot long “ Maglite” I told her to have the police meet me on Kelly Drive. While the thought of going caveman on this filthy animal was appealing, I staked out the car until the police arrived. In my opinion car thieves rank just above cockroaches on the food chain and this guy was no exception. The thief stole anything of value out of the car and did plenty of damage. He was not a genius either, he parked the car right in front of his place of residence.
Cars get stolen all the time and if a thief wants your car bad enough he may just get it. There are ways to deter thieves from stealing your car and some cost nothing. When parking your car, choose a well lit area. Look for foot traffic. Thieves do not want to be interrupted. Never leave bags, boxes or items of value in plain sight. Even a nice coat will entice a thief. Buy a “Club” antitheft device and use it if your car is parked for more than a couple of minutes. The Club is cheap and it makes stealing a car serious work ... thieves hate work. Lastly, if your ride did not come with an engine immobilizing alarm, consider one. Alarms can be obnoxious, but they also can be the difference between driving and walking home.
I am a madman and like the late great Frank Sinatra, I do things my way, but it is not always the safest way. Chasing down a stolen car is a job for the police and ultimately your insurance provider. This was a cool story, not a theft recovery how-to-manual. Be safe and report suspicious activity to the Lodi police. As for the Civic, it was back in good hands and after a week was as good as new. As for the thief, he was arrested. As for me, all this talk of campfires... where did I put that Benadryl ...